|Ending prison gerrymandering leads to new criminal justice data Redistricting data used to map where incarcerated people come from, providing precise tool for policymakers. Read more||Three cities say goodbye to both wards and phantom constituents Cities of Anamosa, Berlin, and Clarinda change form of government to avoid prison gerrymandering Read more||Congress and White House urged to support accurate Census, end prison gerrymandering Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights urges supporting Census Bureau's efforts to end prison gerrymandering Read more|
Welcome! We wrote our introduction to the site and its contents just for you.
Looking at the 2000 Census, the founders of the Prison Policy Initiative discovered that the sheer size of the prison population was combining with an outdated Census Bureau rule to seriously distort how political decisions are made in this country. In a series of reports, we put numbers on the problem of prison-based gerrymandering, suggested solutions, and sparked a national movement.
Since then, we’ve made tremendous progress towards ending prison gerrymandering:
“There are many ways to hijack political power. One of them is to draw state or city legislative districts around large prisons — and pretend that the inmates are legitimate constituents.”—Brent Staples
The clearest example of prison gerrymandering comes from the City of Anamosa, Iowa where a large prison was almost an entire city council district. Council districts are supposed to contain the same number of people, but basing districts on non-voting non-resident prison populations gives a handful of residents the same political power as thousands of residents elsewhere in the city.
|50 State Guide to Fixing Prison-Based Gerrymandering
by Peter Wagner, Aleks Kajstura, Elena Lavarreda, Christian de Ocejo, and Sheila Vennell O'Rourke, March 2010
Preventing prison-based gerrymandering in redistricting: What to watch for
by Peter Wagner and Brenda Wright, Prison Policy Initiative and Demos, February 23, 2011 [En Español]